Published on May 18th, 2016 | by Boris
DAY OF THUNDER
Once again, I was privileged to be invited to attend the Black Uhlans MC’s annual Ride to Win run.
But some water has flowed under the bridge since the one I went on last year.
And that water is dark and sludgy and smells like the police, who have taken it upon themselves, as you all know, to crush outlaw motorcycle clubs.
I have written a lot about the disgusting behaviour the police have displayed when dealing with motorcycle clubs. My good friend Eva Cripps has likewise penned thousands of words about the ongoing persecution of clubs, and sheer infantile bloody-mindedness of the cops.
To sum it all up is pretty easy. The police have decided no-one is allowed to look scary except them.
That’s it. That’s all there is to this.
It doesn’t matter that you’ve committed no crime, and have no criminal record. If you belong to an outlaw motorcycle club, then the police will target you, harass you, and assault you for no reason other than that you’re in an outlaw motorcycle club.
This is the current paradigm. And it does not look like changing any time soon.
So how have the Black Uhlans responded to this bullshit?
They put on a ride. Because that is what they do.
They have always prided themselves on being a riding club.
“It’s always been about the riding and the bikes,” Sean (the President) told me when I rolled up to the clubhouse on a glorious autumn day.
That much was obvious. Members from all over Australia had ridden to the Warrawong clubhouse to do some more riding with their brothers and a few invited mates.
And me, on the Moto Guzzi Audace.
I had two reasons for coming.
The first and most important is that I love riding with outlaws. There’s just nothing like it. I think I once said it’s like being inside a savagely speeding thunderstorm. Every sense is screaming, and your entire being is bouncing off your inner rev-limiter. When an outlaw club decides it’s going somewhere in a hurry (which I have found is often the case), then it’s going there in a hurry – and that hurry is a hurricane of sound and metal. It is amazing to behold – but it is a million times more amazing to be part of it.
I was in a club once, and it’s a part of my life I still think back on fondly. Do I miss it? Sure, especially when I see the bond between members. To them, brotherhood is not an empty statement muttered because it’s fashionable. If an outlaw calls you brother, it means something very real and very tangible. It’s a term carved into his very being and it is not used lightly.
The second reason I went was to see if the cops would rain on the parade. If that was to happen, then I would be there to photograph and record what happened, before I was covered in a pile of police dogs and spasming from Taser overload.
A few minutes before the ride started, I wandered out the front of the clubhouse and had a look up and down the street.
Nothing with blue checkers on it. Just a wide, quiet street in Warrawong.
That changed shortly afterwards as about 130 big twins with open pipes came grumbling like an avalanche out of the clubhouse. I snapped off some images, jumped on the Audace and set off after the pack.
And it is a pack. Outlaws don’t ride in groups. They ride in packs. It is an expression of utter trust in your brother if you’re prepared to sit 30cm away from his elbow at 160km/h. HOG and Ulysses and all those dinky little Facebook ride groups have parades, but all they’re doing is mimicking (badly) what these blokes invented decades ago. And that’s to get on a bunch of noisy, torque-chocked motorcycles and ride somewhere in a thundering, cohesive, almost organic pack.
Riding like that is a feeling like no other, and unless you’ve done it, you will never know.
Many of the members wore nothing but jeans and their colours, and I know that many of them would not have even worn helmets if there had been a choice.
They are all about the ride. You are free to be all about the slide if you so wish.
Like them, I do not at all care what others think about that. And when I say ‘others’, that includes other motorcycle riders.
Outlaw motorcycle club members honestly do not give a shit about what you think of them, what they wear and how they ride. It really is as if you do not exist.
For in their world, you do not.
The pack hammered its way towards the Macquarie Pass. The plan was to go Burrawang, a creepy little village not far from the famous Robertson Pie Shop.
I got caught at a set of lights with a few other stragglers, and when I set off after the main body, it was in a spirited and forthright manner.
Did I catch them?
Nope. It was as if they’d winked off the face of the earth. I got to the top of Macquarie Pass and waited and waited and waited. The stragglers caught me up, and about 20 of us rolled into Burrawang.
The other 110 motorcycles were nowhere to be seen.
But then we heard them.
You will hear 110 shotgun-piped Harleys from a long way away.
Quite suddenly, the quiet main street out the front of the pub was filled with motorcycles idling to a stop. No ostentatious throttle blapping, no burnouts. These are, after all, real outlaws. Not clowns pretending to be outlaws.
The Black Uhlans had arrived in ominous dignity.
Only to be refused service by the cur-like landlord.
It seems the cops had got wind of the run, and had spent a lot of time calling all the publicans of all the pubs the club might visit that day, and telling them if they were to serve any patched members, the police would make it their business to give the publicans a hard time over their licensing.
It is not illegal for pubs to serve outlaw club members. It breaches no law or licensing regulation.
The police use blackmail and intimidation, like the Mafia or the Triads, to get business people to comply with their demands. Classy, huh?
And if those demands mean the publican at the Burrawang pub got done out of maybe five grand of drinks and lunch then it sucks to be him, huh?
So what did the Uhlans do when they were told they would not be served?
Did they torch the pub? Did they beat the publican up? Did they terrorise the town?
Nope. They are outlaws. Not idiots.
They shrugged, saddled up and rode to the Jamberoo pub, a place where they were welcomed, and a place where they spent lots and lots of money.
“This is not going to get any better,” I said to Sean over a beer out the front of the pub. “The cops are just not going to back off and the publicans, who are giant bitches, will comply.”
“Yeah, I know,” he nooded. “That’s OK. We’ll go back to doing it like we did it in the old days.”
What Sean meant was indeed very old school.
In days of yore, when pubs were not open seven days a week, and a club had a run planned, it would get a van or a truck, fill it with cold beer, meat, and a barbecue, and send it off to a pre-ordained place; maybe somewhere scenic, with a waterfall.
The club would then ride there, and kick back for lunch and a few brews.
Simple and basic.
Of course, the cops will do their very best to fuck them over in this regard too. But that bridge will be crossed when the club gets to it.
We’d been there about an hour, and Big Al and I had just finished our meat pies and were busily chowing down on our apple pie deserts while discussing his ridiculously powerful Rocket Three, when a police car rolled through town.
“Five minutes!” came the shout from across the street at the pub.
When you hear that (and you’ll only hear it once), you go put your helmet on and get ready to ride.
And I could not have scripted it better.
Just as another police car rolled back into town and stopped, disgorging three large cops dressed in their denim playsuits, who made their way across the road and into the pub, the Black Uhlans left.
It must have broken the Dog Squad’s shitty little heart as the pack thundered out of Jamberoo, headed for fuck knows, as long as the cops didn’t.
That run from Jamberoo to the clubhouse, in the golden late-afternoon light of the NSW south coast, on roads that were sometimes deserted and sometimes choked with traffic, was a memory that will stay with me forever.
The club was riding fast and hard.
Which is the only way to ride.